Sensuality and L'Amour: Part One

>> Friday, July 8, 2011

So, that was some picture last time, right? My daughter (16) who reads the same manga, brought it in to me saying, "You know, I'm not into guy on guy, but this is like the sexiest picture ever." I agreed, which is quite ironic given that the two men in the picture are not only not romantically involved but hate each other profoundly, largely because they both love the same woman. And both are in this picture, in this posture, as a direct result of that love. Zero (the one with the gun) so he wouldn't be driven mad and Kaname (getting slurped) because the woman he love cherishes Zero and he wants Zero beholden to himself so he can protect the girl when Kaname can't do it himself.

Now, why am I talking about this? Because it occurred to me that I hadn't talked much about sensuality and romantic love with regards to writing, and I think it's important. Not just because I'm a hopeless romantic (though, I am), but because this kind of relationship is a common one, not just in romance novels but every other genre as well. Even if the romance isn't central to the story or the primary protagonist(s), it's quite likely to factor as part of the motivation behind one or more other characters. When I talked about relationships earlier as part of the recipe for making a good story, this was one of the key kinds of relationships I was talking about.

I bring up the picture from last time to start the discussion by making you aware of the difference I see between sensuality and romance. The picture I pointed out was very sensual, obviously touching on more than one sense. Yes, yes, I know a picture is visual, but there was a sense of touch (wet blood), taste and smell (same wet blood, possibly gunpowder), movement and emotion. It would not take much to imagine the sounds. The picture was provocative (I presume deliberately so) and sexy.

What it wasn't (without knowing the back story) was romantic.

I bring this up because, far too often in my opinion, many novels don't make the distinction and trot out relationships that are filled to bursting with lust and sensual description but no depth beyond that. Sadly, a frightening larger percentage of these novels are labeled "romances" but I digress.

Now, I'm not against sensuality by any means. I love it. Nor do I think a book can't have sensuality without romance. But, as a writer, I think you should know the difference and understand what your characters have and why. Then write accordingly. Why? Because clumsy sensual scenes are far less objectionable if you have a real romance on your hands. People who are in love are frequently stupid or nonsensical. But, if your book is filled with sensuality, but no real love, you need to make sure you're doing your sensuality well. Cause crappy sensuality with no love is basically bad porn.

I mean, if you're going to write pornography, make it good at least. Sheesh.


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